Ashok Jagtap (musician in Bollywood)
I came to Mumbai to try my luck in the industry.One of my friend introduced me to Bal Parte.Actually his name was Jaikumar but he was popularly known as Bal Parte.
Parte was assistant to Kalyanji Anandji and Usha Khanna.One day, he called me to his music room at warli and gave me some notations to play.He liked my playing and promised me to call for K.A.Recording.He kept his word.
I had hardly played two three recordings when this incident happened.
It was K.A.’s recording at film centre.I thought as usual I will play with orchestra but Parteji called me aside and asked me if I can play song with artist, as regular song violinist Narvekarji was not coming due to health problem.Parteji knew that I learned Indian as well western notation.To play song violin one has to have knowledge of classical music.I said I can try.
I took my violin and went to singers cabin.
After some time Rafisahab came followed by Ashaji.It was for the first time i saw both the legends.I said ” Namaste ” to both but inwardly I was nervous.Kalyanjibhai explained them the tune.I checked my notations.Within half an hour both the artists were ready and all of us went to the centre of the hall for rehearsal with full orchestra.Parte and Frank farnand were counducting the orchestra.Babla was looking after rhythm section.When rehearsal was over, artists wore headphones and went in the cabin.They were given placing.I too wore headphone and full mike rehearsal started.So far it was going well.
After some time Anandjibhai came out of the recording room and said, he found the song dull.He told the singers”Let us make the key half note high if both of you are comfortable.”
Inwardly I become more nervous as I was not accustomed to such a sudden change.When reharsal started,I was fumbling with notes.What I was playing went directly in singers earphones.Ashaji stopped singing and told some one”Bal la bolv”(call Bal).Parteji came promptly.She said “where is Narvekarji?”He tu konala pakdun anle aahe ?”Where did you get this guy? Her words entered my ears like hot lead. I become totally numb.Rafisahab told her that he is new and we would manage.After some time when Ashaji went out of the cabin to talk to someone,Rafisahab came near me.He put his hand on my back and said”koi baat nahi.Iska dimag jaldi garam hota hai.”Some how the recording was over.
This is how I met Rafisahab for the time.This small incident tells a lot about Rafisahab’s nature.I will never forget this incident but it was blessings in disguise.
I started practicing more and more. Six hours a day.For years I continued practiceing.
Years went by.Slowly I established myself.
Started playing with almost all music directors.
My first love was to play with orchestra but when need arised ,I played songs too.On many occasions I have to play with Ashaji.There was no Trace of past incident.She was comfortable with me.She would chat with me freely.
I played many songs with Rafisahab too. Anil Mohile who later became arranger used to play song violin with me.Together we both played many songs with different singers. Rafisahab,Lataji,Ashaji,all of them had amazing memory. It would take hardly half an hour for them to pick up the song. Most of the songs would be recorded within four hours. As the recording techniques developed, it increased the time required for recording instead of reducing it.
Rafisahab was a perfect gentleman. I’ve never seen him getting angry or being rude to anybody. Ashaji was exactly the opposite. If not in mood, she would make life miserable for the music directors or whoever in the range. I had seen her leaving the sets and music directors running after her. She is very out spoken but her anger would not last long. On the contrary Rafisahab never got angry. No matter how many retake’s he had to give he would sing till the music director was fully satisfied.
Only once he lost his cool at the recording of
Khayyamsahab.Khayyamsahab has habit of taking many retakes.He is never satisfied easily but that particular day after many retakes he was still not getting satisfied.He made Rafisahab sing more than 32 times.Everybody was tired.Rafisahab’s face was turning red but see his decency.Another person at his place would have walked out but he sangtill Khayyamsahab was satisfied.When Khayyamsahab came out of the recording room,he told him not to call himAgain and he never sang with Khayyamsahab again.
I remember him coming in his green fiat. Later he used chevrolet models. His brother in law Zahir would always accompany him. He was kind of his secretary. He was very friendly with us.He told us many unknown facts of Rafisahab’s greatness in his personal life. Rafisahab financially helped many needy musicians, singers even music directors who were old and out of work. For some ‘Lifafa’ would be ready and reach that person every month so he does not have to come to collect it. He did it all of this very secretly.We came to know about is only because of zahir. For the poor he was a ‘Masiha.
Once a musician who used to play with him wanted to buy a property.He set his eyes on one particular property which he liked very much but he has hardly twenty-five percent of the saving with him.He told his difficulty to his friend who advised him to approach Rafisahab.He was hesitant as the amount was not small but his friend convinced him to try.He went to Rafisahab’s house.He told him the reason.Without asking a single question Rafisahab went inside and came back with bundle of notes.That musician cried.In due course of time he returned the amount but it takes golden heart to help others.
Memory is like a small child walking on a sea-shore. You never know which pebble he will pick and treasure for the rest of his life. I also have some pebbles that I have stored .Today is Rafisahab,s death anniversary so i want to share these incidents with you which happened long time ago.
Actualy I am not an eye witness to the incidents but i got first hand information from my musician friends who always accompanied Rafisahab. Even in his famous world tour also he accompanied him. A regular player in film industry too. Before we go on with the incident, let me tell you about Narayan Naidu, a fine tabla player. I remember him for one more reason and cant resist the temptation to tell you about it.
He was staying at the distance of hardly five minutes from the place where I used to stay. Every Gokul Astami he used to call his musician friends to his house for Jagran. There would be a vocal as well as instrumental program till dawn. Many musicians from film industry used to attend every year.Kalyanjibhai’s assistant Bal Parte also used to come every year.
At four o clock or five o clock all would be served with rice and sambar.
To come back to the point Rafisahab’s program was at Gandhi Nagar Gruh, Vadodara.
In those days record dance by female dancer was a must. A dancer named Sheela Ramani who acted or better to say danced in few films and was famous. Due to some reason she could not come for the program and the ticket holder created a ruckus when they got to know this. Even few chairs were broken. Police were called. Before the situation could go out of hand, the organizers agreed to return the money to those who want to return the tickets. He was so nervous that he asked Rafi sahab to announce the same.
The curtain opened and Rafi sahab appeared on the stage and announced that whoever wants thair money back can have them and program will continue without dancer. But nobody returned the tickets. as the program started,everybody forgot about dancer and the program passed on peacefully.
Buji lord is good friend of mine.He is a very good drumer and vibraphone player.Buji’s father was a great persecutionist.His late brother Kercy Lord was a accomplished arranger who worked with Naushad,Madanmohan and many other music directors.Rafisahab was so close to Lord’s family that he even attended Buji’s marriage.He told me about West Indies tour which was held in year 1966.
Rafisahab was accompanied by Enoc Danial, Narayan Naidu,guitarist Dilip Naik and Abdul Karim.Female singer was Minoo Purshottam.In those days she was famous stage artist.Later Dilip Naik got married to her.
People were crazy for Rafisahab.For hours they would wait out side the hotel to just see him.Buji said he was surprised to see public response. All shows were housefull.He said,
Once the organizer tried to accommodate musicians in different low budget hotel.When Rafisahab came to know,he told the organizer that his musicians should get the same treatment and if he has any problem,he would not mind shifting to the hotel where his musicians were accommodated.
There was some type of gossip with almost all top singers but not Rafisahab.In my long carrier in film industry I never heard any body speaking against him.He was ajatshatru (person without enemy).He was not in a rat race for money.
I will tell you another small incident.
Music director Srikant Telang was my close friend.Both of us were staying in same building. He gave music in five to six small budget films.It was his wish to record at least one song by Rafisahab.His budget was so small that it was impossible to call Rafisahab for singing.
Amar Haldipurkar was his arrenger.He said”let us aproch Rafisahab.No harm in trying”.When reached there ,his brother in law zahir opened the door.He was the one who looked after financial affair of Rafisahab.Srikant told him about limited budget.He said “look.Rafisahab charges fifteen thousands but since I know you all,I will settle for thirteen thousand”In those days this amount was not small.Srikant’s face fell. Luckily same time Rafisahab came in the hall.Zahir told him about thirteen thousands.Looking at Srikants face he said ok ! How much you can afford?With great difficulty Srikant said”Sir my total budget is seven thousands.That including studio..Musicians charges etc.I can afford only two thousand.Rafisahab immediately said OK.Dont worry about money.Asked Zahir to write down date in diary.This was nature of Rafisahab.
This was not new for Rafisahab.Years ago same thing happened with Lakshmikant Pyarelal.Only difference was he returned the money and asked to share them among themselve.
You will be surprised to know that in those dayes some top singers were getting very good payment but still they charged hundred rupees extra for petrol and driver.
When Lataji was fighting for royalty,she was expecting Rafisahab to tow in her line but rafisahab flatly refused.She stopped singing with him.
After the release of film Aradhana,it was lean period for him.Actualy Rafisahab was supposed to sing all song of Aradhana.He sang first two songs but then senior Burmanda fell ill and R.D.took over.He wanted fresh voice and rest is history.
During that period he sang many beautiful songs with other singers .
Nearly two year after Rafisahab’s death, there was a recording at Bombay lab in Dadar. Music director was Roshan. He was not the famous music director Roshan but a messenger who worked with music director Ravi. He was giving music for the first movie he got. The song was being recorded at Bombay labs – As we were waiting for the rehearsal to start,
And then Rafi sahab entered. All were shocked and there was pin drop silence. It was only after he came close that we realised that he must be Rafisahab’s brother and later it was confirmed. Until then we had no idea that Rafi sahab had a brother. Though they were not identical twins, he looked like Rafisahab. Later he sang few songs with some small time music directors but none of them released.
Today after so many years Rafisahab is still in the heart of people.He was a great artist and great human being.
Day after tomorrow on 31July all over the world his death aniversary will be observed but I am posting my tribut today on occasion of my birthday.
I am not a professional writer so there are bound to be some mistakes but I have tried to write it honestly.
My heartfelt tribute to great singer.